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Medicine Bow Peak, WY Airliner Crash, Oct 1955

Impact Area of Airplane Medicine Bow Peak WY Wreckage 10-7-1955.jpg Medicine Bow Peak WY Memorial 10-7-1955.jpg


Airliner Hits Peak, Explodes; Rescuers on Way to Wreck; May Be Worst Civil Air Crash.

An Oakland-bound United Air Lines DC-4 smashed into a snow-covered, 12,000-foot peak in southern Wyoming today and apparently killed all 64 persons aboard in what probably is the worst civil air disaster in United States history.

The four-engined plane apparently hit near the top of Medicine Bow Peak, 35 to 40 miles west of Laramie, Wyo., and exploded into flames.
Pilots of the 44th Air Rescue Squadron who flew over the crash scene said the plane disintegrated and that it seemed impossible for any of the 61 passengers and three crew members to have survived.

Ground crews were expected to reach the crash site shortly after noon.

The plane, an air coach flight which took off from New York's International Airport last night, was due in Oakland at 10:55 a. m., then was to terminate at San Francisco.

Air line officials said it would take "some time" to check the places where the plane stopped and to compile an accurate list of the 61 passengers.

But five passengers aboard the plane were believed to be members of the famed Salt Lake City Mormon Tabernacle choir, returning home from a concert tour of Europe.

They were identified unofficially in Salt Lake City as MRS. ENDON C. SCHOW, of Bountiful, Utah; and MRS. DONALD A. KIRK, MRS. B. RAY SEARLE, MRS. CHARLES SMURTHWAITE and MRS. VICTOR J. BECK, all of Salt Lake City.

Four other passengers were identified unofficially as MRS. DARRELL TUCKER, of Ogden; her 21 month old daughter, and MRS. GEORGIA M. WEST, of Salt Lake City, and her son, EARL.

The three crew members were indentified[sic] as:
Capt. CLINT C. COOKE, 35, 1135 San Mateo Drive, Menlo Park.
First Officer RALPH D. SALISBURY, 33, 981 Blair Court, Palo Alto.
Stewardess MISS PATRICIA SHUTTLEWORTH, 22, Salt Lake City.
COOKE lived at the Menlo Park address with his wife, ALLEE and his two children, CAROLYN, 9, and JAMES, 5. He had been with U.A.L. Since 1943. He had been a flight instructor in the Air Force. His parents, MR. And MRS. C. C. COOKE, SR., live in Cordell, Okla.

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1955 Air Crash United 409 Medicine Bow Peak

In the early-to-midsummer of 1956 (I was 9 y/o), my family was going on vacation to Yellowstone. We stopped in Medicine Bow to get gasoline and the gas station had a part of the aircraft's engine and propellor on their pavement. We asked about it and were informed that it had been brought down from the mountains where an airliner had crashed some months ago. This has always haunted me because I knew that many people had died in the crash.

Any knowledge of what happened to the piece of wreckage I saw or any of the rest of the plane?

Documentary Film

Where can this documentary film be seen or purchased?
Thank you.

Air Crash

What would it take to be able to see the documentary? Also, the newspapers published my grandmother's name incorrectly. She was Georgie May West, or Mrs. Franklin Earl West, not Mrs. George West. This crash ruined my family.
Rosanna West Walker

wyoming oct 6 1955

my uncle was on that flight henry s dean on board omaha home town he died 51 days before i was born. my grandma never got over it. muchless all family. all my life heard about it until i came upon this. when me my brother an sisters an cousin was little we would wave at all an any plane go by a say hi to uncle henry.
uncle henry gone but not forgotten. love you!!!!

PLane Crash

I would be very interested in knowing more about your documentary. I too have a realtive that was on board the ill fated plane that went down over Wyoming.
Any help and or information that you could provide would be appreciated.

Guy M. Evans


That's quite a story, sometimes you get to see and know about the near misses you were protected from!! There is still a debris field up there on the side of the mountain, including two of the engines. It is a short hike maybe 3/4 mile from the nearest road but it's up and down scrambling and jumping from boulder to boulder at 11'000 FT so it takes some effort. The snow covering the site doesn't melt until August. I have a few recent photos but I hope to get some better ones this August 2011.

Air Crash

If anyone has pictures, videos, or would be willing to tell me anything about this crash, I would love to hear it. I know my mother received almost nothing from United Airlines, and they would only pay for one headstone per family, so my Uncle Earl has no headstone at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery in Salt Lake. This loss caused our family grief and dysfunction my whole growing up. My email is

i was there

the wyoming outing club worked several days on the accident. myself, diggs lewis and a man from the cap were the first ones on the crash.

Air Crash

I would love to see this documentary. I have searched for a long time for anything about this. My Grandma, Georgie, and my Uncle Earl were on this flight.

flight 409

how can i see our film about flight 409?

article | by Dr. Radut